Defending champions Australia open their campaign on Saturday, 1 June, against Afghanistan.
India have never won a Test series in Australia, which is surely a sore point for the world’s premier cricketing nation.
In recent memory, the closest they’ve come was the draw in 2003-04 – entering the final Test, in Sydney, at one apiece.
With a batting order reading like an all-time honor roll, the tourists amassed over 700 in the first innings. But, thankfully, the Aussies hung on for a gritty draw – avoiding the shame of sending Steve Waugh out a loser.
India missed a rare opportunity that year. The Aussies still had a solid batting line-up, but without Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, the bowling stocks were thin. Does the name Brad Williams ring a bell, anyone?
Fast forward 15 years and India have an even better opportunity to snag that big W. This is arguably the weakest Australian team we’ve seen, and the Indians are ranked number one. We’re knee deep in a touchy-feely rebrand, and they’re battle hardened on the back of two away tours.
Our bowling stocks are workable. But after rubbing out our two world-class batsmen, Usman Khawaja (13) is our only entry into the ICC’s top 20. Next, you’ve gotta scroll all the way down to Shaun Marsh (38) – with a ranking that’s still higher than his Test average.
And, let’s face it, despite some recent resolve, our batting is still as fragile as a Fabergé egg.
Cast that against Virat Kohli, the world’s best batsman, plus Cheteshwar Pujara, who’s fourth, and you start to see the magnitude of their advantage.
Also in their favour is the schedule, with no summer opener on a Gabba greentop. The last time the Aussies lost in Brisbane was during Expo ’88.
Next, it’s the wickets. Perth isn’t the hazard it used to be, and Adelaide doesn’t help the quicks. Melbourne and Sydney are playing low and slow, so India will like their chances of getting some results.
Finally is the day-nighter, or lack thereof. The Aussies clearly had the advantage of experience here, but it was canned by the BCCI.
My point? All the pressure in on India now. I can’t see them getting a better chance.
If they don’t win this series, then they may as well take their bat and ball and go home.